So, You Hate His Friends...

You may have found yourself the perfect partner, and it’s all going great. Then you meet his friends, and suddenly all is no longer hunky-dory. What went wrong? While your boyfriend’s friends are not a total deal breaker in a relationship, it’s definitely something that can come in the way of your happiness.

I’m thinking back to my ex-boyfriend, who was a lovely guy with varied interests and a mature outlook on the world. His friends, on the other hand, seemed to be single minded in their “college days” pursuit of women, beer, and parties. Now I’m no introvert, but I simply couldn’t understand how my boyfriend, who seemed relatively tame by nature, had a thing in common with them. Every social obligation I had to meet them at was just that- an obligation, and I never really felt comfortable in their company.

While I tried to be as honest with him as possible about why I didn’t feel good about us hanging out with them, it inevitably came off as nagging and negativity, which led to a lot of fights between us.

I began to explore the reasons why I was feeling this way. I’m generally very easy to get along with, and very few people rub me the wrong way. I tried to think about the reasons why I felt bad about my boyfriend hanging out with his friends. To some extent, I suppose it was possessiveness. I trusted my boyfriend, of course, but that didn’t mean I was okay with him going around with a group of guys whose sole purpose seemed to be flirting with women at bars.

Another reason I suppose I didn’t like his friends is because seeing the way they were made me think- had he ever been like this? And if so, was he suppressing his true personality while being with me? This niggling doubt was something that really bothered me, and I had to look for another way out, since confiding in him would inevitably lead to a fight.

Of course, I never expected or wanted him to abandon his lifelong buddies just because I said so. I understood that this was his social circle, and whether I liked it or not, I had to tamp down on my negativity every once so often and make an effort. Expecting anything more than this would likely have led to resentment on his part, or an explosive reaction involving an ultimatum- the outcome of which would leave neither of us happy.
I started to ask him more questions about his friends, find out their stories, and try to look for some things in common with them. This helped, because I managed to unearth things about some of them that I would never have guessed otherwise. While he was initially a little bit suspicious about my renewed interest in his friends, who I had told him I didn’t like earlier, I let him know that if they were his friends, I didn’t want him to have to choose between us, and that I was going to make an effort to get to know them better.

It made for a good starting point, as I was now able to connect more easily with some of them. I tried not to be too intrusive, because I understand that he needed his personal space, but in the long run it went a long way in getting a little more comfortable with them. Additionally, my boyfriend recognized the effort on my part and was grateful for it. Not only was he grateful, but he also made more of an effort in making me feel included with his inner circle, and was more understanding and willing to listen when I wasn’t exactly thrilled about a particular aspect of the situation.

What matters the most in a case like this is honesty and compromise. While it’s a precarious balance to maintain, a little bit of openness can make a difference, and eventually lead to that bliss you were enjoying in the first place.